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Gov. Brown extends whooping cough vaccine deadline

July 25, 2011 |  5:58 pm

Photo: Students at Huntington Park high school received whooping cough shots back in July. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Monday giving students 30 days after the start of the academic year to obtain a whooping cough vaccine and submit verification to their school.

This school year marks the first time that the vaccine — typically in the form of a booster shot called the Tdap — has been required for students entering grades seven through 12.

The start of a small number of year-round schools in Los Angeles Unified on July 5 presaged potential problems. At Huntington Park High,  76% of the 2,420 students arriving for class had not met the requirement. Having to send students home would disrupt instruction and also cost the funding provided for each day a student attends classes.

The San Diego Unified School District also warned of a potential health risk without the 30-day grace period.

“The unattainable current deadline may … have negative health impact as some families who find it difficult to get their students immunized quickly may sign personal-belief waivers just to keep their students in school — which could undermine the very purpose of the pertussis immunization requirement,” the district asserted as part of a legislative analysis of the bill.

In L.A. Unified, many students will have the option of obtaining the vaccine at school, with parental permission.

The bill was supported by school districts and some medical-advocacy organizations, including the California Medical Assn. and the California School Nurses Organization.


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-- Howard Blume

Photo: A student at Huntington Park High gets a whooping cough shot earlier this month. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times